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Internationalizing your marketing ft. Alessio Pieroni of Mindvalley (Inbound Success, Ep. 137)

Internationalizing your marketing ft. Alessio Pieroni of Mindvalley (Inbound Success, Ep. 137) Blog Feature

April 6th, 2020 min read

How did 16-year-old online learning company Mindvalley double the size of its user base in a year?

Alessio PieroniThis week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Mindvalley head of marketing Alessio Pieroni talks about the company's internationalizing strategy, and how entering new markets fueled dramatic growth.

From translating versus dubbing content, to what international expansion means for hiring, how your social media strategy needs to change, and what to consider when localizing your product, Alessio talks about all of the different dimensions of internationalization.

Check out the episode to hear more about the impact that internationalizing has had on Mindvalley's business, and the advice that Alessio has for anyone thinking of entering new markets.

Editor's Note: Mindvalley was an IMPACT client in 2017. This in no way, however, affects the opinions or information shared in this article.- Ramona Sukhraj, Head of Editorial Content

Highlights from my conversation with Alessio include:

  • Mindvalley is an online learning company that focuses on teaching people the things they can't learn in school.
  • The company has been around for 16 years and has historically focused on english speaking markets.
  • In 2011, Mindvalley first attempted to enter international markets but was not successful because they tried to recruit employees to star in their online course videos, rather than the company's founder Vishen, who had always been the face of the brand.
  • After that experience, they refocused on english markets again, but then a year ago, they were approached by someone who wanted to translate their course material into Spanish and market it in Mexico.
  • They did it as an experiment and put some advertising dollars behind it, and were able to realize ROI in 5 days.
  • After that early success, the company copied that same formula and now has course materials in Spanish, Portuguese, French and German.
  • In just the Spanish speaking market, Mindvalley was able to add 1.2 million new users in 10 months, and now the company's Spanish customer base is larger than its English speaking customer base.
  • This year, Mindvalley plans to add courses in Italian, Arabic, Japanese, and Indian languages to its offerings.
  • Alessio says that the keys to the company's success are the quality of its courses and years of data, which it has leveraged to develop pay-per-click advertising programs that have allowed it to quickly scale growth.
  • The company's cost to acquire a new customer in the US is between $8 and $10, whereas in Spanish speaking markets it is between $1 and $2.
  • Going international is more complicated than it might seem and it's important to get details like language right. For example, with Spanish language material, they had to determine whether to use a South American accent or a Spanish one, and whether to dub the course material or subtitle it.
  • There are other challenges as well, such as different payment processors and cultural attitudes towards credit cards versus cash.
  • As the company has entered new markets, it has relied on contractors to help create course material.
  • In some markets, it has had to outsource social media and paid advertising.
  • Mindvalley has not yet localized the UI of its product as that would require a significant investment in technology.
  • Alessio says that these efforts have resulted in the company doubling and nearly tripling its business in a year.

Resources from this episode:

Listen to the podcast to learn how Mindvalley experienced its strongest growth ever by internationalizing its marketing -- and what you need to know if you're considering marketing to an international audience.


Transcript

Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast.

I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And this week my guest is Alessio Pieroni, who's the head of marketing for Mindvalley. Welcome Alessio.

Alessio Pieroni (Guest): Thank you so much for having me. So excited to be in this podcast.

Alessio Pieroni and Kathleen Booth
Alessio and Kathleen recording this episode.

Kathleen: Yeah, I'm excited to have you here. And fun fact, I am sitting here at 8.00 a.m on a Friday in my office and you are sitting there at what time?

Alessio: That's 9.00 p.m Kuala Lumpur time.

Kathleen: 9.00 p.m, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia time in the hot weather, whereas I am sitting here and it is cold and rainy and dark. So I think you win this one because it's not even happy hour, it's Friday night party time in the beautiful tropical Malaysia.

About Alession Pieroni and Mindvalley

Kathleen: Thank you for joining me and maybe we could just start by having you tell my audience a little bit about yourself and who you are and what Mindvalley is.

Alessio: Yeah, absolutely. I like to define myself as a full stack marketer. Because in my experience in the past six or seven years I've been working different areas of marketing.

So I started out around email marketing and funnel marketing, went on then going deeper into organic traffic and SEO.

And then from there I moved into Product Marketing and conversion rate optimization till the last one took about two years ago where I'm managing an entire marketing division for Mindvalley, where I kind of need to be a generalist.

To speak a bit about Mindvalley, Mindvalley is the biggest personal grow the education platform in the world. And what we like to say that we do is that we take all the kind of education that traditional education doesn't teach you, and we bring it to you.

So education, for example, teaches you accounting, but doesn't teach you how to be rich. It teaches you science, but doesn't teach you nutrition, or does not teach you fitness. It teaches you a lot of things but doesn't teach you memory, doesn't teach mindfulness, doesn't teach you to be a great parent and lover, or how to be happy.

And that's kind of our mission to the world — to bring that great education to the life of everyone so that everyone can improve their own life and live a happy life.

And we'e been doing that since about 16 years ago now. And now privy to about 10 million people reach across our social media. We have about four million users on our platform and hundreds of thousands of customers every year.

So it's an exciting company to work for definitely.

Kathleen: The world's largest personal growth and learning platform. And it's interesting to me that your focus is on that gap between like what you can learn from a book or a class, a normal school versus what you really need to know for life.

I feel like that's actually kind of what we do on the podcast. It's like, you can take marketing classes in school but what are the things they never teach you?

Alessio: Absolutely.

I just had this discussion few weeks ago with some marketing students that came to our office and they were asking me some questions about how they could actually nurture their careers and I was like — I speak frankly — like, university will never teach you Facebook ads. It is too new for you to learn something like that in university.

Take university for what it is, but once you're out of university you learn so much more. And there is so much non formal education.

And I believe that podcasts are changing the world for that. It's so beautiful, so much free and amazing education is out there and I love to market it every day.

Kathleen: Absolutely. I learn so much just from hosting this podcast and talking to people like yourself.

And that's one of the reasons I was looking forward to talking with you because you bring, I think, a different experience than a lot of the other guests I've had.

Specifically, Mindvalley is headquartered in Malaysia. It's grown considerably in the last few years. I mean, it was already experiencing a very healthy pace of growth.

But then in the last couple of years, the company really made this decision to go more international. And that has just fueled this tremendous uptick in the company's growth.

So, we've talked a lot about many different aspects of marketing on this podcast, but one of the things we really haven't covered much is international marketing and what it means when you want to start selling into different markets around the world from a geographic standpoint, from language, cultural standpoint, etcetera.

So I am so excited to dig into this with you. But let's start.

Mindvalley's international growth

Kathleen: And can you talk a little bit about what that journey has been? And when did the company start thinking about going international? What was it doing before that? What was the pre international phase? And that sort of thing?

Alessio: Absolutely. So Mindvalley has been very focused on the English language and on covering all the markets that are English speaking. And we're pretty big on that.

And with it, with the wave of internationalization that we have been trying to do in 2011 - 2012, we like to say that that was a bit of a failure as a company.

What happened exactly in this case is that, Mindvalley, for the ones that are not familiar with our business model, we have a host, which is our CEO and founder Vishen, and he's the one basically hosting the personal growth and learning from all over the world.

And what we were doing 2011 and 2012 is that we tried to recruit some great employee and make them host in their own languages.

So Vishen wasn't any more the face of Mindvalley, but that employee was the face of Mindvalley in that language. And it was okay for maybe a couple of years.

But then it definitely wasn't the right way to scale up. And all these kind of businesses that we were starting around the world kind of faded away and we kind of stopped them.

So for the next few years, we focused completely on English. Last year, we actually got a call from a guy that's in the marketing space from Mexico.

And he was simply telling us, "guys, I really believe so much in Mindvalley, I really believe so much of what you guys do, can I translate your content in Spanish?".

And we were just like, you know what, that just such a small bag that we can play Just give him a product will pay him very little amount of money just to test out and see what will happen.

And what seemed to happen is that in this time we simply translated the program, keeping Vishen as our host. And after translating the program, we simply tried to say, "What would happen, now that we have this program, if we just put some advertising budget on that? What will happen?"

And the results were shocking. We're this very small firm, and we have been having such a big growth for a new market, which we weren't in, given the little investment that we made in the beginning. We literally paid it back in about five days.

When we looked at that, we were like, "Wow! Really, like, that's incredible."

And, so that simple little experiment that we did in a very random way, from that we said, "Okay, maybe this is something that is so much bigger," and that's when we started to actually assemble a team around that, and we started looking into the different languages that we can actually work on, which is the prioritization of languages.

And how we can actually scale up this entire system.

So one year and a half later, we are now in four different languages — Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German.

We added, just in the Spanish speaking market, 1.2 million users in 10 months. And right now, the Spanish list — actually the internationalization list overall — it's bigger than the English speaking list.

So we have so many more users from all over the world. And for now, this year, we're looking into a lot of different languages — Italian, Arabic, Japanese, and [languages from India]. And so yeah, it's becoming global.

And its so beautiful to see the impact that we're able to make in a lot of, I would say, underserved markets, because a lot of these markets are very hungry and very willing to actually get the learning that we're giving at Mindvalley.

What's the secret behind Mindvalley's international success?

Kathleen: Now, you kind of, I don't want to say stumbled into going international but it wasn't this grand plan that you know, you worked up to it for two years. It was you, you were opportunistic, you had somebody come to you. The company jumped on this opportunity and went and it was successful.

Why do you think it worked so well? For you?

Alessio: Well, I would say that there are definitely a couple of things that were very interesting, and some feedback we got from our customers as well as why they love us so much.

So number one is definitely the quality of the product. In the last couple of years, we need to level up so much because the English speaking market ,the American market, its so competitive.

I truly believe that the average customer of Mindvalley every day will kind of think, "Should I watch Netflix? Should watch MasterClass.com or should I watch Mindvalley?"

The level of quality that we need to match for the English speaking market is so difficult that we really need to push ourselves so much more.

And the reality is that when we went to the Spanish speaking market, so many of our competitors are just not there. And the quality that that market is used to is so much lower that we as English speaking people are actually used to. And so when we went out there we just found ourselves being so much better than everyone else.

And that's actually a big advantage for us and it's definitely been a super great thing.

On the other side, I will say also that another big advantage we have had is that we've had tons of years of data.

And having data — even on English speaking customers, but also that you have maybe some English speaking customers from Mexico, from Spain, from Latin America — learning which kind of customers we were still able to capture from those countries gave us a lot of ideas on how we could capture more of them.

So the data was especially amazing when we needed to actually just run advertising to that and let the Google and Facebook algorithms help us find customers that were similar to the ones that were already following us from that region.

And it worked really magically in a very scalable way that allowed us to grow exponentially.

What does it really mean to go international?

Kathleen: So I want to dig in a little bit to really what it means to go international because I think someone listen it would be easy to feel like, "I just need to translate my marketing materials into another language and, blast it out there and people will buy."

That's not really what we're talking about here. I mean, you have a product, which is an online product. So it's not just advertising that needs to be localized. It's the product itself, correct?

Alessio: Absolutely. And what I like to say is that when we took this approach, there have always been two phases of localizing.

The first phase is to kind of bring the best of Mindvalley in that language. And the second phase is to bring that language and that culture into Mindvalley.

Because obviously, it's really easy to take a program, translate it and put it out there. But the first thing is that you start to get tons and tons of feedback.

And the reality is also that every different culture, every different language, and sometimes different countries in that specific language, will give you very different feedback.

So just to give you some examples, in the Spanish speaking language, there is a very big debate of, should you actually translate with a Spanish accent? Or should you translate it with the Mexican or the Colombian one?

And it's very interesting to see this debate and understanding.

So a lot of time what we needed to do is simply test it out a bit, and we've seen, okay, if we translate one program with a Spanish accent, what happens? If we translate another one with a Mexican accent, what about that?

So it's very important to check it out and actually get different feedback from different people.

Another important debate that you always need to face and understand is should you dub your content or do you actually want just to subtitle your content?

We are having this problem and debating in the Portuguese market, especially because what's happening in that case is that apparently, like some years ago, some companies went into the Brazilian market, they translated and dubbed their content. But they did it in such a bad way and the program was done in such a skanky way that they kind of destroyed the whole dubbing industry.

So there are so many people that just don't want to consume a program that is dubbed. But then there are so many other people that don't want to just read the subtitles for every everything.

So it's very difficult, even in the same market, to satisfy everyone.

So we're trying different approaches and we are trying to understand exactly which approach will work better in which country. But a lot of that, frankly is really trying look for what the customers says and improve our progress day by day.

Kathleen: This is such a fascinating topic to me because I actually lived in Spain for a year after I finished college, and I happen to live in Barcelona, which has, it's not the same accent as even like the regular Spanish accent it's a little bit I guess you would say cleaner.

But, it's interesting too. It's not just accents, it's like between Spain and South America, there are different levels of formality in the way they speak.

Like, if you're a Spanish speaker, it's the difference between using "tu" and "usted" and "ustedes" and vosotros" and things like that.

I guess, for somebody, you don't have to speak Spanish to understand this. It's like the difference between British English and American English. They're very different.

And in fact, it's so funny because I used to do a lot of work in India, where they have call centers, and somebody once told me this funny story which I have to relate. This is a little bit of a tangent. But they told me that in Karnataka, which is the state where I was working there...

Alessio: By the way, I lived in Karnataka, in Bangalore for a year.

Kathleen: So well, so you might even know this already. So they said there are two different schools. Like, if you're Indian and you're going to go work in a call center, you either go to the school where they teach you British English or the school where they teach you American English, and they jokingly call the American school the "duh duh duh school" and the British school the "tuh tuh tuh school."

And the reason is, think about how people say the word "butter."

I'm American, and so I say butter, which is duh, duh, duh butter versus the Brits who say butter, which is tuh, tuh, tuh.

So you know, it's fascinating, like, these nuances of language that I think we really take for granted.

But then the other half of the story — and sorry, I'm totally going on but you've made me recall all these memories — is when I was living in Spain this issue of dubbing is so fascinating because Spain actually has like, I think it's like the world's preeminent dubbing school / industry.

And I'll never forget this is going to totally date me but I moved to Spain when the show Melrose Place came out in the United States, which was a really huge hit, but I happen to be living there when it started.

And so, I only ever saw it dubbed and listened to it in Spanish with the dubbed voices and there was this character played by the actor Andrew Shue, who in Spain, he had this very manly dubbed voice, you know, and he would be like, "Hola, Carolina".

And then I came back to the United States and he has this more, like, high pitched voice. He's like" hey Caroline", and it totally ruined the show for me.

Sounds like so anyway, total tangent, but it is super fascinating to me. Just the impact that those choices can make on your effectiveness and communicating and the way that your audience absorbs and forms an opinion about your product.

Like, I formed an opinion about Melrose Place the product because of this voice that was different the voice that actually was, etcetera.

So, anyway, that's my whole two cents on the dubbing and the language thing, but it's really interesting, and I think most people probably don't think about this.

So I'm curious to hear from you, as you did these tests. What did you learn? Like, what were the winners from the tests that you conducted?

Alessio: Absolutely. So definitely for the Spanish speaking markets, having a cleaner accent, so having a Latin American accent, has been working much better for us.

The program that we actually tried in the Spanish accent from Spain, we needed to retranslate it into Spanish from Latin America, because we got so many complaints from our customers that now we're in the process of retranslating and recording that.

And that's actually a very interesting point. I guess about 65 to 70% of our users from Latin America are from Mexico.

So a lot of time its simply about understanding the customer that you want to serve more, and understanding where your interest is going, where you're actually growing.

And interestingly enough, what we've been seeing now is that in terms of users, Spain is just number six among the Latin American market, but in terms of customers it's a close number two to Mexico.

So obviously, the conversion is much better than when it comes to Spain, but then in terms of depth of the market and width of the market, it's definitely not the biggest one we could find there.

So for the Spanish market, we definitely decided to set them work.

The standard for the Portuguese market, frankly, is something that we are still trying to figure out. Probably between all the markets we've been going for, Portuguese was one with the highest expectations we had, but we still weren't able to go into that.

For example, another very big problem that we found in the Portuguese market is the fact that having a localized checkout makes the entire difference.

So for some interesting reason, people from Brazil can't really buy products that we normally buy. They need a very specific checkout that is normally in a very specific way that allows the Brazillian credit card to work.

Kathleen: Is it just that they need the currency to be in reals? Or is it just the credit card processor?

Alessio: It's the credit card processors and 80% of Brazilians cannot buy with a normal process that is normally used for a normal website, or at least with our current websites.

So one of the major things that we're doing -- and this obviously, it's a tech change that you need to do -- is changing over checkout in order to be able to serve more markets.

So that's something that we're in the process of doing, but as you can imagine, it's such a big project because to better serve one county, you kind of need to start to change your entire process for the entire company.

So now we're working on that and ideally, in a couple of months, we should be able to have a solution that should allow us to serve these customers better.

Kathleen: Well, it isn't that really like, the classic conundrum of the product marketer, which is that, you know, there's this very natural tension between, you have a customer who could be a great customer, and they have this really specific need that might suck a ton of resources out of the organization versus, like, the population of the rest of the potential customer base who might need smaller changes in order for them to buy.

It's like, which one is more valuable, the bird the hand or, the bird that could potentially fly in the next week? I think that's a conversation product marketers everywhere can really relate to.

Alessio: Absolutely. I completely agree with that, it's something so crazy. And it's funny, because the more you actually learn about other languages, the more there are certain things that are kind of very interesting.

Like, an example of that is in the Russian market, which is actually the only market that's from the previous kind of internationalization that is still alive in Mindvalley. They have 20% of their sales that happen offline.

So what that means is that that people buy, but instead of buying, they actually take a screenshot of something that you put on your website.

And then they go to the local shop, they show them the screenshot printed, and then they say "I want to pay in cash, and then they pay in cash to the shop, and the shop make sales for you." And it's just like it...

Kathleen: So interesting. I know.

Alessio: You're like "Why?", but a lot of people don't trust credit cards in our local countries. And a lot of people simply don't trust banks or don't trust anything. They believe much more in cash.

So that is very normal, and they expect, when they actually need to make a sale or to buy something, they want to pay in cash, simply because that's how the culture is.

Probably in few years, also in other countries, things will change. But at the moment, if you want to properly serve that kind of customer, you need to adopt your business a bit.

Localizing the product in addition to the language

Kathleen: That is fascinating.

You talked about having to create a localized checkout experience for people in Brazil. When you talk about internationalization, or localization really, is what it is, for these different markets — you've got four now, Spanish speaking German, French, Portuguese.

I guess the question I have is, you're obviously translating and subtitling or dubbing the course materials, but are you really presenting a completely localized UX as well within the Mindvalley web experience?

Alessio: So we definitely translated the entire UI of our app, and our website and everything. Let's say that, in terms of you UX, there is definitely a lot more that we could do. Especially like, there are certain countries that we're looking at that present these kind of challenges.

So just as an example, right now we're entering Arabic. Now one of the biggest questions is, do we write everything left to right or right to left? Like, what do we do?

And actually, for us, writing in the Arabic way, so right to left, we would need to make so many changes, tech wise, that if we want to do that we would probably be internationalizing the country two years from now, not today.

So sometimes you might need to make some compromises.

And also, for me, being a non English speaker, natively, when when I was a kid, and I was playing games, I grew up basically with playing games that their UI was completely in english. It was actually my way to start learning English a lot of time. Sometimes there are certain things that people are way more forgiving.

And maybe even if the UI is not translated, it's still good. And the UX is definitely a very advanced level that you might want to adapt, just maybe in a second space.

So answering the question, in terms of UX, we have not done that yet. But it's something that we're definitely looking for. But for that, also, it would acquire our platform to become much more flexible than what it is right now.

So it is a lot of tech work involved.

What kind of a team do you need to support internationalization?

Kathleen: Now, what about your team? Because this obviously has implications for the people behind the scenes, both those who are involved in creating the content and adapting it for new languages. Do you have any kind of, like, support functionality that needs to be internationalized? Like, what has that done to the structure of the company itself?

Alessio: That's a very interesting one. Because the team, the simplest way to do it, is to do it with flexible contractors. Okay?

So what we did for every country is that we have some very strong project managers, and those are the main hires that we did. And these project managers are the ones that actually coordinate all the different contractors of the different areas.

So we have some contractors that are in customer support, some contractors that are doing the entire voiceover, scripting, and copywriting in that specific language. We have some contractors doing the learning part. And then slowly, as demand for work is becoming bigger, the more we're starting to hire those people.

So we started to hire, for example, social media managers in all those different languages because obviously we want to go bigger in terms of social media.

And the next one will be hiring people to take care of the learning, because one of the next steps in terms of our localization is actually to start creating programs that are specific in that language.

So that's very interesting, because studying these markets, we've come to understand that there are specific needs that that market has that maybe the English market doesn't have.

And so there are these possibilities that we can create specific programs just for that market. And that's something that we are exploring at the moment.

Mindvalley's international marketing strategy

Kathleen: Fascinating. I mean, I could talk to you for hours about this stuff. But I want to make sure that we build in some time to talk about, like, some of the marketing activities you did to really fuel the growth.

So you mentioned advertising. Is it fair to say that that was the primary channel that really drove customer acquisition in these new markets?

Alessio: Absolutely. In our industry, online education, advertising is always one of the major channels.

But what was incredible for us was that the cost per acquisition in that market was incredibly low. So while in the US we may need to spend about $8 to $10 to acquire a lead, in the Spanish speaking market, we spend between $1 and $2.

So literally, we can acquire four or five people per every English user.

So, it's very interesting from this point of view, which is why we were able to grow so much in terms of users in the year.

Then what's been interesting is that the more users you acquire and the more programs you launch, the more you can actually monetize this fan base and user base that you've been creating.

So definitely, email marketing was the other part that was incredibly important to keep those people engaged and to make sure that we could serve them with the best content, with the new classes, with the new programs, and create this kind of fan base. That was incredibly important. 

Kathleen: To what do you -- you mentioned the lower cost of acquisition in some of these new markets through ads -- to what do you attribute that that big difference between what you're paying to acquire customer in the US versus, for example, say Mexico?

Alessio: Well, two different things. So number one, the competition, having a much lower competition in the Spanish speaking market means that the cost is much lower.

And we see very clearly obviously, acquiring a new user in India is much cheaper than acquiring a user in the U.S.

And the other side is also that, obviously, we need to take care of our markets, as marketers, is not just about how much does it cost us to acquire users, but also what is the return that we can get from that?

And that's also a very, important one. So we've been looking into that. And obviously, it's very clear that the conversion rate that you will get in U.S market, it's very different than the conversion rate that you will get in a Spanish speaking market.

So you know that if in U.S you have 5% of users buying in the Spanish speaking market, might be only 2% or maybe 1% sometime.

So that's something that you always need to take into account and always pay attention to how you're scaling up and how this affects profitability.

So it's been actually a very good lesson for us because, in certain moments we were just so bullish, and we're like, "Okay, let's spend more and it just grow it." And then for a couple of more, if you look back and are like, "Okay, cool. Let's just make sure the profitability is there are we're able to do this sustainably" because that's one of the most important to you ought to do.

Kathleen: I feel like in the U.S, when we talk about pay per click and online advertising, 95% of the time we're talking about Facebook, Google and Google remarketing. Maybe some LinkedIn, but that's more B2B. Maybe some Twitter. But it's really mostly Facebook and Google.

So I'm curious, did you find that to be the same when you went internationally? Or were there other platforms or channels that performed really well for you?

Alessio: We definitely found that to be the same.

Specifically, what actually has been working really well for us is YouTube. YouTube has been an incredible channel for us.

And we've had a few reviews, especially in the Spanish market, where we've had about 35 million views on a specific video that was part of our advertising mix. And that started to go very viral in the market. So definitely, that's what we've been seeing now.

But when we actually internationalize in a new market, what we're looking for in the future is definitely we're seeing that there are some other opportunities out there.

So in the Russian speaking market, Yandex is a big one. They have Yandex, they have VK -- they have a lot of different social media. Telegram is a big thing there.

So definitely, that would require a different mix that we're exploring much more at the moment.

Or, for example, in Japan, they have LINE, which is a sort of a Whatsapp, let's say, for the Japanese market and is much stronger than Facebook, for example.

So going in these markets really means changing your marketing mix. But let's say that in the four languages that we've been internationalizing until now, we don't have these needs at the moment.

Kathleen: Yeah, I feel like that's a whole nother kind of scary area for marketers, when they think about going internationally. They're like, "Hey, it's taken me a long time, but I finally understand how to do Facebook and Google.

Now you're telling me I need to learn Yandex and WhatsApp and all these other platforms that can be really intimidating."

How did you handle that? Did you guys really just like, learn it yourselves? Or did you find somebody who's really good at it and pull them in to help?

Alessio: So let's say that's for Yandex, we would definitely work with external agencies.

And we are literally, one year announced that we are studying China, because China is probably the ultimate internationalization that you want to do.

And if we want to announce that we are studying the market, we understand what's really there because it's a complete different ecosystem from every single point of view.

And we're slowly approaching that big box because it's really the biggest opportunity out there for internationalization.

But we want to make sure that once we go there, we go that properly and with the right instrument to make sure that we will be able to actually do it effectively.

And in that case, obviously, WeChat, Weibo, Youku, and all the different platforms they have -- so it's really a different system.

But as of now, I would say that 80-20 is really what matters. And we're really trying to be able to understand what the best is that we can do with what we have right now.

And then slowly, the more these get successful, and also give us enough profit to invest more, understanding how can we go deeper and deeper into the different channels, the different markets and doing understand though, can we do even better?

Mindvalley's international growth

Kathleen: Yeah, that sounds like it's so complicated. It's fascinating.

So before we run out of time, I want to make sure that we really highlight the results you've gotten. So before you did this — before that person came to you and said, "Hey, can you turn this program into another language?" — how big was the user base for Mindvalley?

Alessio: Our user base was about 1.7 million at that time.

Kathleen: Okay. And that was when?

Alessio: That was December 2018.

Kathleen: Okay. Wow. So, a little over a year ago.

Alessio: Yeah, a little over a year ago. And now, our user base is about 3.8 million. We also had a very good growth in English because we've been growing also there.

But we've been adding at least, in total, 1.5 million/1.6 million users, just from the internationalization effort.

Kathleen: So okay, I want to make sure I'm recapping this correctly. So the company is about 16 years old. And from years zero to 15, let's call it you grew to 1.2 million?

Alessio: 1.7

Kathleen: 1.7, sorry. Okay. Thank you. And then in the last little over a year, you've almost tripled that, correct? Or doubled to tripled it?

Alessio: You would say double to triple. Yeah, 2.5 million.

Kathleen: Wow. That is amazing.

Alessio: It's been a really, really exciting year from this point of view.

Kathleen: That's amazing. Well, kudos to you and the team for what you've done. This is not easy. But it definitely highlights what a game changer it can be from a growth standpoint, if you're able to do it and navigate it correctly.

Alessio: I personally think, after one year and a half of working on this, that it's probably one of the biggest opportunities out there that a lot of marketers have not been taking.

Alessio's advice for marketers thinking of internationalizing

Kathleen: So, if you had to start over again and talk to yourself two years ago, what advice would you give yourself? Is there anything you wish you would have done differently or you had known before you started?

Alessio: So what I would say is that I would have probably, from the first moment, I would have approached it, I would have tried to over hire probably, and to hire a bit more people because it really requires some good HR to make sure that you're actually been able to go that deep into the market.

We've been stretching our resources a lot to launch as much as possible. But I think that if we would have had two to three hires per languages versus just one we would have been able to do a better job, and been more profitable and growing more.

These are probably the only few things that I would say to myself because for the rest, like, the team, even if it was the very simple payment stuff, has been able to deliver amazing things.

Kathleen's two questions

Kathleen: Wow. That's incredible. Well, we have just a few minutes left so I want to make sure I ask you the questions that I asked everybody who comes on this podcast.

The first one being, you know, this, the show is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or individual that you think is really killing it right now with inbound marketing?

Alessio: So my actual favorite guy in inbound marketing is Patrick Campbell from ProfitWell.

I'm a big geek, in terms of revenue, subscription terminology, growing revenues and listening, and he's incredible in terms of looking into pricing, hosting a show that's fun, but speak about things that for the probably 99.9% of the people are very boring.

But he's able to do it in such a great way. Such a great quality, having some great guests as well. And I'm really incredibly surprised the content he's able to put out there.

Kathleen: That's a good one. I'll definitely check that out.

And you know, the biggest complaint I hear from marketers is that things are changing so quickly. It's really hard to stay on top of all the new developments in the world of digital marketing. How do you personally do that?

Alessio: I would say that one of the habits I've implemented is that I always keep one hour and a half a day to learn. That to me is just a huge part of my job. Like, you can't be a great marketer if you don't learn.

Digital marketing in 2020 is different than digital marketing in 2017. And if you don't have enough time to learn it, you just won't get it.

In terms of sources of learning, I definitely have a couple of Chrome extensions that that helped me out a lot.

So number one is Zest.is, which is a fantastic Chrome extension that gives me the best marketing articles every single day. That is followed by growthhackers.com, which has a fantastic newsletter.

And then I follow a couple of podcasts, a couple of different things in the startup, entrepreneurship, marketing, business space that helps me to think outside of the box.

Kathleen: So what are some of your favorite podcasts?

Alessio: Actually the podcasts that I like the most are more around growth hacking and how companies have been scaling and growing. So Reid Hoffman Masters of Scale and Andrew Chen from Andreessen Horowitz.

That's really incredible for me and something that I'm always trying to be on top of and, and to learn as much as possible from them.

How to connect with Alessio or Mindvalley

Kathleen: Great. Well, this has been so much fun and so interesting. And I feel like we've barely even scratched the surface. But that's all the time we have.

So if someone wants to learn more about Mindvalley, or if they want to reach out to you and ask a question about this experience you've had with internationalization, what's the best way for them to do that?

Alessio: Absolutely. So if you want to learn more about Mindvalley, just go to Mindvalley.com, and you can learn a bit more about that all our classes, our courses, and all the opportunities you have to improve your personal growth and education.

If you want to reach out to me, find me on LinkedIn, that's my favorite platform. I'm always putting out a lot of interesting content on marketing there, and just follow me -- Alessio Perioni. And I try to catch up with all the messages I get, and I'll be happy to answer every single question.

You know what to do next...

Kathleen: Oh, fantastic. I will put the links to both the Mindvalley website and Alessio, his LinkedIn profile, in the show notes. So definitely head over there. And check that out if you want to get in touch with him.

And if you're listening and you found this episode valuable or you learn something new, please consider heading to Apple podcasts and leaving the podcast a five star review. That's how we get in front of new people and we get to share all this great information from folks like Alessio.

And if you know somebody else who's doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @workmommywork because I would love to make them my next interview.

That's it for this week. Thank you so much Alessio.

Alessio: It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. It was such a fun conversation.

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